Can an NFL punter sue a stadium for injuring his leg when he tripped on a seam in the field?

November 23rd, 2012

Brett Hartmann, who played for the Houston Texans, alleges that he injured his leg when he “tripped on a seam in the grass on the Reliant Stadium field while playing a game last December.” Football seems to be a pretty dangerous game. What is his claim? Negligence in failing to maintain the field:

Hartmann alleges in the petition filed in the 334th District Court in Harris County that he suffered a “significant and career-threatening knee injury” after a punt during a game on Dec. 4, 2011 against the Atlanta Falcons at Reliant Stadium.

“Knee injuries of course are unfortunately not uncommon for professional football players. Such injuries, however, are extremely rare for punters, and even rarer during plays where there is no physical contact. Instead, Hartmann suffered his devastating injury when his foot was caught in a seam in the grass turf,” he alleges in the petition.

He alleges the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. contracted with SMG to “operate and manage Reliant Stadium.” He alleges the defendants have a duty to provide Houston Texans players with a “reasonably safe playing surface,” but the surface on Dec. 4, 2011, was “simply unsafe and unsuitable for its purpose, professional football.”

He alleges that while many people assume grass is a “safer” surface for football stadiums, that’s not the case at Reliant Stadium.

“Inexplicably, rather than letting the grass grow on the field in one ‘piece’ as it is at most other NFL stadiums utilizing grass, the turf for Reliant Stadium is transported into the stadium in 8’x8’ pieces, known as ‘trays’ (‘Grass Trays’), thus including innumerable seams and uneven partitions,” Hartmann alleges in the petition.

 Let’s see what happens here.